One of the first occupations I ruled out for myself was being a farmer. It was not for a lack of appreciation for farmers. Rather, many of my uncles and cousins were farmers, or had a hand in helping. Stopping at farm stands where fresh produce was served was a regular part of the summer. I remember jumping from hay bales as a kid. It was great fun. And I admired the care for the earth and the tangible results of that work very much. I just did not want to be a farmer.
Why? Because what was quickly clear to me was the hard work that farming entailed. Despite all of the benefits (and more) listed above, I could not bring myself to a life of the hard physical work. I was too soft. What I remember appreciating was the connection between what I ate and knowing the work that went into producing it. But perhaps most of all, it was very clear to me that the earth had value. That if the seeds were to grow into corn, if the cows were to produce milk, then what very much needed to be true was creating the proper conditions for success.
Such is the message of holiness in the readings today. If we are to receive God’s word, and if it is to take deep root, we need to create the proper conditions. While we tend to hear the Parable of the Sower as having to choose one situation or the other, I think a better read of the story is that wherever we find ourselves, whether with deep soil reading to hear the word, or choked off by cares and anxieties of life, we are called to be holy, and to make holy these parts of our lives.